Election officials prep for counting votes after polls close on Tuesday

Posted at 5:48 PM, Nov 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-03 18:01:19-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — We are counting down to Election Day, now just five days away. The campaign trail is heating up as county clerks prepare for voters.

We reported continuously the night of and the days after the 2020 election about concerns and accusations of how ballots were counted inside Huntington Place, then known as TCF Center.

Poll volunteers were under immense scrutiny, and some poll watchers were disruptive. There was misinformation about phantom ballots delivered, with one conspiracy theory being spread that a trove of ballots was wheeled in from a mysterious van overnight.

That van was ours, that person was one of our photographers, and those ‘troves of ballots’ was actually a hard case with our video equipment inside.

Those concerns are still fresh on the minds of voters and election officials as we head toward Tuesday’s midterm.

“I have great concern,” Sheila Leverette-Kirkling told us.

Tonight, there is concern over ballot counting in Detroit again.

“It was not, not cool. I'll put it that way. We've got to have faith in the elections and all that and it just, there was a lot of shady stuff going on,” says Joseph Hardville.

Post 2020 - Michigan election officials are prepped to prevent a repeat.

"I'm here today to assure all Michigan citizens that the election will be safe, secure, fair, and the results will be an accurate reflection of the will of the people," says Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

To do that, each clerk has been sent a poll workers' code of conduct, available to election workers.

And if there is a disruption?

"Election officials and law enforcement are more prepared than ever before to immediately address any attempt to interfere or disrupt our elections process or intimidate voters," says Benson.

In Detroit, about 4,000 poll workers have been trained to process absentee ballots. Wayne County Clerk Janice Winfrey says those workers are already struggling.

"We have lots to do, and the staff is really breaking down. We have this virus that's going on and we're all trying to be safe and mask up, but we're spent. We're spent," Winfrey says.

Adding to the stress, the immense scrutiny workers will be under, and safety concerns.

"I think it’s unfortunate that some people have been led to believe things that simply aren't true and they're taking out their action on some good people who are just looking to volunteer and help their country," says Ferndale voter Matthew Wilson.

"I feel like those people should be protected because they are guaranteeing our right to vote. And they're making sure the election is free and fair," says Detroit voter Joseph Hardville.

Election officials are warning that results again may not be immediate, but in Detroit, a picture could emerge early.

"We're hoping that between 9 o'clock and 10 o'clock, we'll have the lion’s share of all the votes that were cast in the city of Detroit. That means at least 60,000 absentee ballots, as well as probably about 60% of the precincts should be in by that time," says Detroit Director of Elections Daniel Baxter.

Benson says her department along with the AG's office will have mobile response teams scattered across the state to help respond to any issues.